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Foil has traditionally been used in pharmaceutical packaging because of its high barrier properties in the face of extreme environmental conditions, including extremes of temperature and humidity. Paying particular attention to pack design can optimise these benefits by using advanced options rather than traditional solutions.

Excerpt: Dr Jez Clements, Partner and Senior Mechanical Engineer at Cambridge Design Partnership, describes key criteria in the design of innovative foil packaging for pharmaceuticals and argues that remaining conservative in design is not always the best approach.

Foil packaging is a competitive and complex industry, and one that benefits from considerable specialism in design and engineering. Designers involved in the production of foil solutions must employ a process of constant and considered innovation to ensure that they meet the strictly regulated and often complex design briefs of the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

The most important challenge in many packaging designs is to understand the barrier properties required and how, exactly, these can be incorporated in the design. For example, the brief might include the requirement to minimise gas or moisture transportation across the seal and through the materials. Furthermore, a barrier needs to retain its extraordinarily high integrity right up to the point that it is used, stand up to several rounds of testing and provide a shelf life of up to five years.

It has to achieve this in the face of varied, unpredictable and aggressive environmental conditions, including high temperature and extremes of humidity. While various grades of plastics can provide some protection, only foil can deliver this total barrier solution.

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